15) WITNESSES: Can the words of Joseph Smith be trusted? What witnesses are there of his prophetic calling?
No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don’t blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I would not have believed it myself. [Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:317[/ref]
God is my friend. In him I shall find comfort. I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me, only to do his will. 1
There were prophets before, but Joseph has the spirit and power of all the prophets. 2
I am a witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. . . . He was a man of God and had the revelations of Jesus Christ, and the words of Jesus Christ to the people. He did build and establish the kingdom of God on earth, and through him the Lord Almighty again restored the priesthood to the children of men. . . .
I am a witness of this; and all who will hear the voice of the servants of God, pay attention to what they say and obey the commandments given to the people, shall receive a testimony and know that we tell them the truth, that Joseph is a prophet of God, and did actually finish the work which the Lord gave him to do, sealed his testimony with his blood, and has gone to dwell in the world of spirits. 3
Joseph Smith holds the keys of this last dispensation, and is now engaged behind the vail in the great work of the last days. I can tell our beloved brother Christians … that no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are—I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent. He holds the keys of that kingdom for the last dispensation—the keys to rule in the spirit world; and he rules there triumphantly, for he gained full power and a glorious victory over the power of Satan while he was yet in the flesh, and was a martyr to his religion and to the name of Christ. …
Should not this thought comfort all people? They will, by-and-by, be … thankful for such a man as Joseph Smith, junior. … It is his mission to see that all the children of men in this last dispensation are saved, that can be, through the redemption. 4
Joseph Smith in the first place was set apart by the Almighty according to the counsels of the gods in the eternal worlds, to introduce the principles of life. … God selected him for that purpose, and he fulfilled his mission and lived honorably and died honorably. I know of what I speak for I was very well acquainted with him and was with him a great deal during his life, and was with him when he died. The principles which he had, placed him in communication with the Lord, and … with the ancient apostles and prophets; such men, for instance, as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Jesus and the Father, and the apostles that lived on this continent as well as those who lived on the Asiatic continent. He seemed to be as familiar with these people as we are with one another. Why? Because he had to introduce a dispensation which was called the dispensation of the fulness of times, and it was known as such by the ancient servants of God. 5
Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. He was a man raised up by the power of God. He received the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by visions and revelation as did John the Revelator. Angels appeared unto him and taught him the ways of life. Those men who held the Priesthood—who were put to death in the flesh for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ—visited Joseph Smith. John the Baptist conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James and John, the Apostleship and Melchisedek Priesthood; and all the Prophets who held any keys and powers belonging to the Gospel, these also visited Joseph Smith and conferred upon him those keys and powers and authority to administer them on the earth. 6
This is the key, the foundation stone of all revelation. Joseph Smith was full of revelation. He could translate anything given to him of God. He could receive revelation without the Urim and Thummim. Many of the principle revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants were received without the use of the Urim and Thummim. They were given to him by the inspiration of Almighty God. 7
A word or two about Joseph Smith. Perhaps there are very few men now living who were so well acquainted with Joseph Smith the Prophet as I was. I was with him oftentimes. I visited him in his family, sat at his table, associated with him under various circumstances, and had private interviews with him for counsel. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God; I know that he was an honorable man, a moral man, and that he had the respect of those who were acquainted with him. The Lord has shown me most clearly and completely that he was a Prophet of God, and that he held the Holy Priesthood and the authority to baptize people for the remission of their sins and to lay hands upon them for the reception of the Holy Ghost, that they might receive a knowledge themselves in relation to these things. [Lorenzo Snow, Conference Report Oct. 1900, p. 61[/ref]
Joseph F. Smith
As a child I knew the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a child I have listened to him preach the gospel that God had committed to his charge. . . . I have retained the witness of the Spirit that I was imbued with, as a child, and that I received from my sainted mother, the firm belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; that he was inspired as no other man in his generation, or for centuries before, had been inspired; that he had been chosen of God to lay the foundations of God’s Kingdom as well as of God’s Church; that by the power of God he was enabled to bring forth the record of the ancient inhabitants of this [the American] continent, to revive and to reveal to the world the doctrine of Jesus Christ. . . . As a child I was impressed, deeply, with the thought, and firmly with the belief, in my soul that the revelations that had been given to and through Joseph the Prophet, as contained in this book, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, were the word of God, as were the words of the ancient disciples when they bore record of the Father and of the Son. 8
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!
During this time we had much of the power of God manifested among us, and it was wonderful to witness the wisdom that Joseph displayed on this occasion, for truly God gave unto him great wisdom and power, and it seems to me that none who saw him administer righteousness under such trying circumstances could doubt that the Lord was with him. He acted not with the wisdom of man, but with the wisdom of God. The Holy Ghost came upon us and filled our hearts with unspeakable joy. Before this memorable conference closed, three other revelations besides the one already mentioned were received from God by our prophet, and we were made to rejoice exceedingly in His goodness. 9
Eliza R. Snow Smith
Again I had ample opportunity of judging of his daily walk and conversation, and the more I made his acquaintance, the more cause I found to appreciate him in his divine calling. His lips ever flowed with instruction and kindness; but, although very forgiving, indulgent and affectionate in his nature, when his godlike intuition suggested that the good of his brethren, or the interests of the kingdom of God demanded it, no fear of censure, no love of approbation, could prevent his severe and cutting rebukes.
His expansive mind grasped the great plan of salvation, and solved the mystic problem of man’s destiny; he was in possession of keys that unlocked the past and the future, with its successions of eternities; yet in his devotions he was as humble as a little child. Three times a day he had family worship; and these precious seasons of sacred household service truly seemed a foretaste of celestial happiness. 10
In the cause of truth and righteousness—in all that would benefit his fellow man, his integrity was as firm as the pillars of Heaven. He knew that God had called him to the work, and all powers of earth and hell combined failed either to deter or divert him from his purpose. With the help of God and his brethren, he laid the foundation of the greatest work ever established by man—a work extending not only to all the living, and to all the generations to come, but also to the dead. He boldly and bravely confronted the false traditions, superstitions, religions, bigotry and ignorance of the world—proved himself true to every heaven-revealed principle—true to his brethren and true to God, then sealed his testimony with his blood. 11
Parley P. Pratt
In short, in him [Joseph] the characters of a Daniel and a Cyrus were wonderfully blended. The gifts, wisdom and devotion of a Daniel were united with the boldness, courage, temperance, perseverance and generosity of a Cyrus. And had he been spared a martyr’s fate till mature manhood and age, he was certainly endued with powers and ability to have revolutionized the world in many respects, and to have transmitted to posterity a name associated with more brilliant and glorious acts than has yet fallen to the lot of mortal. As it is, his works will live to endless ages, and unnumbered millions yet unborn will mention his name with honor, as a noble instrument in the hands of God, who, during his short and youthful career, laid the foundation of that kingdom spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, which should break in pieces all other kingdoms and stand forever. 12
In the spring of 1834, Brother Joseph Smith came from Kirtland, Ohio, to my father’s New York estate, which he had purchased at Avon, Livingston County. This was the first time I ever beheld a prophet of the Lord, and I can truly say at the first sight that I had a testimony within my bosom that he was a man chosen of God to bring forth a great work in the last days. His society I prized. His conversation was meat and drink to me. The principles that he brought forth and the testimony that he bore of the truth of the Book of Mormon made a lasting impression upon my mind. . . . I, in company with my sisters, had the pleasure of cooking and serving the table and waiting on them, which I considered to be a privilege and a blessing.
Brother Joseph and Elder Rigdon held a meeting in Geneva, which was called the Orton neighborhood, in a barn. Elder Rigdon preached, Brother Joseph bore testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and of the work that had come forth in these last days. Never did I hear preaching sound so glorious to me as that did. I realized it was the truth of heaven, for I had a testimony of it myself. Many very interesting interviews we had with them while they were at my father’s house. 13
- Joseph Smith, in The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984, p. 239 ↩
- Smith, History of the Church 6:346. ↩
- Brigham Young, Deseret News, Feb. 27, 1856, 403 ↩
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 7:289 ↩
- John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 21:94 ↩
- Wilford Woodruff, Deseret News, Jan. 30, 1884, p. 18 ↩
- Wilford Woodruff, Millenial Star 53:642, 1891 ↩
- Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), p. 493 ↩
- Newel Knight, “Newel Knight’s Journal,” in Scraps of Biography (Faith Promoting Series, Volume 10) (Salt Lake City, 1883), pp. 47-65; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], p. 14 ↩
- Eliza R. Snow, in Edward Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom (New York: 1877), pp. 30–31 ↩
- Eliza R. Snow Smith, “Anniversary Tribute to the Memory of President Joseph Smith,” Woman’s Exponent, Jan. 1, 1874, p. 117 ↩
- Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. (1985), pp. 32, 34 ↩
- Mary Noble, Journal of Mary A. Noble, included in the journal of Joseph Bates Noble, Brigham Young University Library, p. 16; Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1974], p. 16 ↩